Each year, we share our 10 most-read stories. Not surprisingly, many of this year’s top 10 focus on student engagement and online or hybrid learning strategies related to epidemiology teaching. The ninth most-read story of the year focuses on effective distance learning strategies.
It’s the middle of the school year, and schools across the United States are still grappling with how to keep students motivated to learn through a computer screen. According to a recent survey of high school students, more than half (54 percent) reported having less interaction during distance learning than in in-person classes.
In a virtual environment, teachers are constantly competing with diversions that don’t exist in the classroom, such as social media, television, and video games. Family distractions also come into play, especially for older students who may be looking after younger siblings while the parents are at work. Amid these turmoil, it can be difficult to get students to constantly log in, stay and participate in learning.
As educators, we always think about the identity of our audience. What academic, social, emotional, and behavioral challenges do our students deal with? We then use this information to brainstorm how best to approach online lessons, build and maintain important school culture and relationships, and enable other comprehensive forms of support, such as counseling and therapy. This can be particularly complex when addressing the needs of students experiencing trauma.
During this time of distance learning and social distancing, countless factors contribute to increased trauma in children. Growing anxiety, loneliness, fear, isolation, and a lack of structure and routine are having a disproportionate impact on the lives and health of already vulnerable populations. Creating an engaging virtual environment for students can be challenging, but some ideas, best practices, and strategies can help you craft a distance teaching approach.
First of all, be yourself.
This advice applies to administrators, teachers, staff and the school as a community. Your students know you and expect to continue the same relationship with you even when they are not physically on the school premises. For example, it is necessary to maintain the standards that you have in the classroom. Keep reviewing classroom expectations to give students a sense of normalcy and to show that although learning looks a little different, the classroom is still a familiar place for them.